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Ducks Shell Out Bills For Kariya

The Mighty Ducks' Paul Kariya, who sat out part of one season because of a contract dispute, has signed a new three-year deal believed to be worth at least $10 million annually.

Financial terms of the contract were not made public, but an NHL source said the agreement was for between $32 million and $33 million.

Kariya, a first-team NHL All-Star three of the past four years, made $8.5 million last season in the final year of a two-year contract. He had missed 32 games before finally signing that agreement.

This time he was amazed at the speed of the negotiations.

Â"I'm very happy with the deal,Â" Kariya said Wednesday at a news conference at Edison Field, up the street from the Mighty Ducks' home ice. Â"It went so smoothly it kind of caught me off guard how quickly it got done.Â"

Kariya, 24, said he got a call from his agent a day earlier saying the negotiations were complete.

Â"I had basically told him at the end of the season that getting this done was his deal, that I wanted to focus on getting ready for next season,Â" said Kariya, who had 39 goals and 62 assists for Anaheim last season. He was named a first-team NHL All-Star last week after finishing third in NHL scoring.

Asked if he ever thought that he might leave the Mighty Ducks, Kariya smiled and replied: Â"No. In my heart, I've always known I will be here. I love it here, and I can't imagine a better place to play hockey.Â"

Said Ducks general manager Pierre Gauthier: Â"It's great to never get into a situation where Paul was a free agent. He wanted to stay and we wanted to keep him.

Â"Obviously it is a big day for the franchise. We want to build this club to become a Stanley Cup contender and a Stanley Cup champion, and this is a significant step.Â"

The Mighty Ducks have never made it beyond the second round of the playoffs, and lost to Detroit in the opening series this year.

Kariya, however, believes the team is on the verge of a breakthrough.

Â"I feel within three years we will be Stanley Cup contenders,Â" he said, alluding to the length of his contract. Â"I think we have a lot of potential with our young players, and you will see them improve with more experience.

Â"All we want, all every player wants, is the opportunity to have a chance to win.Â"

Kariya broke his foot in the playoff series against Detroit this year, but said it is healing and that he expects to begin skating again in August, which is his normal routine.

A native of Vancouver, Kariya was Anaheim's first NHL entry draft pick as they took him fourth overall in 1993.

He and linemate Teemu Selanne have provided the Mighty Ducks one of the league's highest-scoring duos.

Kariya has 168 goals and 210 assists in his five years in Anaheim, despite missing the first third of the 1997-98 season due to the contract dispute and most of the rest of that season ue to a concussion.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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